Saturday, 1 February 2014

Q26: A reluctant Valentine ... Are there ‘bad reasons’ for saying ‘yes’?

Many years ago, I had a friend who made out that February scared him, because according to an old tradition, Valentine's Day was the one day in the year when a woman could ask a man to marry her ... how times have changed!

But why should my friend be 'scared'? Wasn't the man entitled to say, 'no'?!
Fortunately (or otherwise), the days when a man would agree to anything out of sheer gentlemanly honour have long passed ... Or have they? In a love relationship, there are many complicated reasons for saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’; and ultimately, we must trust our inner sense of what feels right for us. Yet perhaps there are times, in love and in life, at home and at work, when we feel obliged to say yes - only to regret it later.  

An unwilling 'yes' 
An unwilling 'yes' always causes problems. Suppose I ask you to do something. What are the 'bad reasons' you might agree?  
  • Out of resentment - because I don't offer you a choice? 
  • Out of fear - because I'll angry be if you don't?
  • Out of resignation - to get the job done?
  • Or do you secretly wish to win my love and approval ...?
From one perspective, these are good reasons! You're protecting yourself from harm, and doing your best to stoke up your future happiness. The reasons are 'bad' only because they cause a split. Something inside you would prefer to say 'no' - and this goes missing. It's in danger of getting lost.

Taking care of your needs 
The problem happens when your actions don't completely meet your needs. Doing what I want - saying yes - might stop you having some unmet needs, but that's all. You protect yourself from my demands, my anger or my laziness. But your needs for choice, safety and ease, even your needs for love and affection, are not included - they are left out in the cold, alive and kicking.

So your 'good reasons' also have worrying consequences. Your unmet needs will cause you to suffer. That is what unmet needs do - until you have acknowledged them and found ways of bringing them in. Until then, they act as 'lost parts', which think, feel and behave as anyone would who is shut outside, without a valid voice or proper home.

Why should I care? 
Why should your 'lost parts' matter to me? (After all, I've got what I want ....)

Because unmet needs have a way of making their presence felt. If your needs are unmet, you'll let me know. You'll make me pay for it in some way. Hidden resentments or suppressed needs may often burst out unexpectedly ...
  • You stalk off in a huff, banging the door behind you
  • You push me away, to save further hurt
  • You lose all trust that I can see or hear your needs
Perhaps it's not so final, and the worst I'd have to bear (as I dump another job on your plate) is ...
  • Your sulky expression as you slouch sullenly away
  • You grimly doing what I ask - but not an inch more!
Is this okay for me, though? Perhaps I want to see you going the extra mile! Perhaps I'd like you to feel cheerful; I truly value our relationship ... Now I see that if you have unmet needs, then I'm not meeting my needs either.

When I take you in fully, as a human being, I can't help but feel my 'needs for you', as well as my 'needs for me'. If I'm making life difficult for you, I'm also hurting myself.

Good reasons for hearing 'no' 
Even in complex matters of love or friendship, hearing 'no' (while challenging) is always better than a half-hearted 'yes' - for both of us. The more wholehearted we are, the happier; and the more naturally friendly we feel.

And who knows, hearing 'no' may open up new doors, and lead us somewhere undreamed of, to something we never knew could happen ....

Elizabeth English
with Peter Kuklis

1 comment:

  1. I appreciated your latest newsletter. The issue of saying 'Yes' (well actually 'No') has great significance in my personal life. I am so used to finding out my partner's needs (or friend's needs) and then making sure that I'm the one to meet them (as a strategy to get Love - and eventually Safety) that I often have little access to what I wind up saying 'No' to in the moment I say 'Yes' to my partner's requests... I say 'Yes' because it seems that there is nothing in the way - but that is often because my own preferences or Needs are buried too deep to notice... :(